A guide to travel vaccinations

If you’re travelling outside the UK, you may need to get vaccinated against certain diseases before you go. Without the required travel vaccinations for the countries you’re visiting, you’re unlikely to be able to claim on your travel insurance if you get ill from a disease that could have been prevented.

If you’re travelling outside the UK, you may need to get vaccinated against certain diseases before you go. Without the required travel vaccinations for the countries you’re visiting, you’re unlikely to be able to claim on your travel insurance if you get ill from a disease that could have been prevented.

Written by
Josh Daniels
Travel insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Rebecca Goodman
Insurance expert
Last Updated
28 MARCH 2023
7 min read
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What travel vaccinations do I need?

The vaccines you need to travel depend on where you’re travelling to. NHS fit for travel provides a guide on the recommended and required travel vaccinations by country.

Certain travel vaccinations may be required by law for entry to some countries. For example, in some countries you’ll need a certificate to show you’ve been vaccinated against yellow fever, while in others you’ll still need to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

When it comes to recommended travel vaccines, it may depend on what regions you’re visiting and what you’ll be doing while you’re there. For instance, you may be more at risk of contracting some diseases if you’re backpacking or volunteering in a rural area, rather than staying in an all-inclusive resort. Your age and health can also make you more vulnerable to certain infections.

Before you travel, you’ll need to visit your GP. They’ll look at your medical history and see what vaccinations you’ve had and if you need any boosters or additional vaccines for the regions you’re travelling to. You’ll also need to tell your GP if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have a condition that affects your immune system.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean your claim is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

When do I need to get my travel vaccines?

Speak to your doctor as early as possible – at the very minimum eight weeks before you travel. This is because some travel inoculations may require more than one course of injections spread over a period of several weeks to allow your body to develop immunity. You’ll also want to make sure you can get an appointment booked in, particularly during the peak holiday season.

What COVID-19 vaccinations do I need for travel?

Most countries have now relaxed their rules on COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements, but they could still change at short notice. Different countries have different vaccination programmes and may have a different understanding of ‘fully vaccinated’.

Because of this, it’s essential you check the entry requirements for each country you want to visit or travel through before you book your trip. Check entry requirements at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

Will I need COVID-19 vaccinations to transit through different countries?

As well as your final destination, you should check the entry requirements for every country you plan to travel through. Even if you plan on taking a connecting flight, changing train or simply driving through a destination, it’s important that you comply with local rules.

Requirements will vary according to the destination and rules may be more relaxed when transiting rather than staying somewhere overnight.

The best place to find information on entry and transit requirements is the FCDO foreign travel advice page.

If you don’t meet the entry requirements for your destination, you could be refused entry and/or ordered to pay a fine.

What proof of travel vaccinations can I provide?

For proof of COVID-19 vaccinations you can download an NHS Covid Pass. This digital document is available to anyone aged 12 or over and lists the vaccinations you’ve received in reverse order, including any boosters. Parents and guardians can request an NHS Covid Pass on behalf of children aged between five and 15. Bear in mind that it may take up to five days for vaccines to show in your NHS Covid Pass.

If you’re unable to be vaccinated against COVID-19 due to medical reasons, it will be at the discretion of the country you’re travelling to as to whether you can enter with a medical exemption.

For proof of vaccinations against other diseases, you may need to ask for an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). You can ask for the certificate from your travel clinic or the GP surgery where you received the vaccination.

Where can I go to get my vaccines for travel?

Your first step should be to book an appointment with your GP. They can advise you on what vaccines you need to travel, check what immunisations and boosters you’ve already had and advise you of any other risks and recommendations for the area you’re travelling to. That could include, for example, what steps you need to take to protect yourself from malaria in tropical regions.

They can also advise you on which vaccinations are a necessity and those that are lower risk (these are discretionary and shouldn’t impact your travel insurance).

If your GP can’t provide the travel vaccinations you need, they may refer you to a travel clinic that can. Not all GP practices are signed up to provide free NHS vaccinations so you’ll need to check with your surgery.

If you need vaccinations not provided on the NHS, you can go to a private travel vaccination clinic or a pharmacy offering travel healthcare services.

For example, yellow fever vaccines are only available from designated centres.

Which travel vaccines are free under the NHS?

The NHS offers free vaccinations for some diseases that are prevalent in other countries. This is to reduce the likelihood of people returning to the UK with the disease and spreading the infection. These vaccinations are free on the NHS:

  • Typhoid
  • Hepatitis A
  • Cholera
  • Polio (given as a combined diphtheria/tetanus/polio vaccine)

Unfortunately, not all GP practices in the UK are signed up to provide free immunisation services. If that’s the case where you’re registered, your GP should be able to advise on a local private clinic or pharmacy that can help.

Which travel vaccines will I have to pay for?

You’ll have to pay for the following travel jabs if your GP recommends you need them:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningitis 
  • Rabies
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Yellow fever

The cost of travel vaccines will vary depending on where you get your injections, the dosage you need and how long you’ll be away for. You may also be expected to pay for additional medication, like anti-malaria tablets.

Are travel vaccines covered by my travel insurance?

The cost of your travel vaccinations won’t be covered by your travel insurance. But if you have private health insurance, your plan may cover the cost of vaccines that aren’t covered under the NHS. You’ll need to check this with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor.

What happens if I don’t get vaccinated?

If you don’t get the recommended vaccinations and become ill as a result, you can invalidate your travel insurance policy. It’s important you have all the necessary vaccinations before you travel. Make sure you also take any medication you’ll need while you’re away.

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Frequently asked questions

Where can I get a COVID-19 certificate?

If you live in England, you can get your NHS Covid Pass through the NHS app or online at the NHS Covid Pass service. Alternatively, you can get a letter sent to you in the post.

If you live in Scotland you’ll need the NHS Scotland Covid Status app and if you live in Wales you’ll need the local NHS Covid Pass app. In Northern Ireland you’ll need a domestic Covid vaccination certificate.

How do I get an EU Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC)?

If you were vaccinated in an EU country, you can get an EU Digital Covid Certificate (EU DCC) for free from the country you were vaccinated in. They are available to EU citizens and non-EU citizens legally residing in the EU.

To find out how to get your EU DDC, you’ll need to check the information provided by the national health authority in the country where you received your COVID-19 jab. The European Commission website can help point you in the right direction.

Where can I get other vaccination certificates?

Some countries might require a certificate as proof of vaccinations before you’re allowed to enter – notably yellow fever. You’ll be able to get this from the registered vaccination centre that gave you your vaccines.

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Josh Daniels – Travel insurance expert

Josh is an expert on protecting yourself while on holiday with the right travel insurance. We all go on holiday for different reasons. Some like to fly and flop, while others like to climb mountains, surf and ski. Josh knows how fun that can all be, but, with more than seven years in the insurance industry, he also knows how to cover you and your belongings while away.

Learn more about Josh

Rebecca Goodman - Insurance expert

Rebecca Goodman is a freelance financial journalist who specialises in insurance, personal finance and consumer affairs. Rebecca regularly writes for national newspapers including The Independent and The Mail on Sunday on a wide-range of financial topics. She covers everything from money-saving tips and holiday advice to investigations into how energy efficient appliances can cut the cost of household bills and the impact donating money can have on those in need. Along with features in national papers, Rebecca also writes news stories for websites including Yourmoney.com and The Money Edit.

Learn more about Rebecca

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